I’m preparing a blog post about the awesome time I had at the Willow Creek Arts conference – but I had to stop to vent my frustration with what I’m reading in the blogging world from Christian organizations about Willow Creek. Right now, the big buzz is about the results of Willow Creek’s “Reveal” study – which found that increased involvement in church programs does NOT ultimately result in fully surrendered, Christ-centered spiritual maturity. They realized that in their old method – people after coming to faith in Christ simply kept looking for more and more ‘feeding’ from their church – and became dissatisfied when the church couldn’t provide it. They are looking to now teach believers to become ‘self-feeders’ as they grow.
Unfortunately many out there are posturing this as “Willow Repents” and the beginning of the End of Willow Creek. Unfortunately many haven’t read the book and are only responding to what OTHERS have said and how they have spun the situation. I see bloggers riding high on their horses with this “I told ya so” attitude. It would seem like they would have some form of compassion for a ministry that is just trying to ‘do church right’ for God’s glory — like hopefully we all are.
I guess I am frustrated by the notions that people put out there that their way is more biblical than others… citing that we need to go back to ‘the traditions’. I question statements like that because most of what defines the North American church evolved LONG after the New Testament was written. There is a LOT of tradition that has nothing to do with being Biblical — and I just want us not to make it more ‘biblical’ just because it’s ‘older’ than whatever modern practices or approaches are. For example — we make certain English words essential to genuine faith when none of the bible was written in English – it’s all a translation or interpretation. Shuoldn’t we all be engaged in a passionate pursuit of God’s truth – rather than fighting with each other about religious stuff?
The last time God gave 100% specific instructions for Worship was the Old testament and the building of the tabernacle. In Christ there was an amazing shift from the priestly system to this family/community of believers who did life together in the book of Acts. The New Testament church didn’t have it perfect (prompting Paul’s corrections / teachings) and we still don’t have it together today… although they did it WAY better than we do.
The reality is that we all will be 100% dependent on learning to hear and respond to God for how to ‘do church’ or anything else. I think we become so short cited and see our lifetime as the fullness of God’s eternal plan. God’s church is HUGE… I don’t think we can fathom all of it until Jesus himself appears and the end of this age comes. In the mean time it’s my aim to prayerfully read the scriptures and seek the will of the Father.
One of the first things that I LOVED about Willow was the fact that the leadership could say when it was wrong and you regularly heard apologies and saw things change direction as a result. I hadn’t commonly experienced that in other ministries where I’d been involved (short of some form scandal that HAD to have a response). I think it’s a GREAT example to lead with the transparency of being a human who CAN and WILL get things wrong. The history of the Church has NEVER been perfect — the reality is that it is being PERFECTED by Christ up until the day of His Return.